'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Video via MSNBC: Oddball, Worst Persons
Guests: Dan Savage, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Chris Kofinis, Michael Musto
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
The new GOP demand: start over on health care - pressed by two senators with invitation-only town halls, McConnell and McCain, too cowardly to face criticism; pressed by the phony Bible thumpers like Michele Bachmann.
What we have to do today is make a covenant to slit our wrists, be blood brothers on this thing. We will do whatever it takes to make sure this doesn't pass. You know, I can actually support part of your plan.
Pressed by the plain crazy who would actually boo a dead senator two days after his funeral.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JAN SCHAKOWSKY (D), ILLINOIS: Ted Kennedy had said that this was the great issue of his life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Markos Moulitsas on the Republican do-over meme; Dan Savage on the GOP and religious ecstasy crowd. Who's using who?
Out of Afghanistan - the call from that wild-eyed liberal George Will?
Dick in 2012. Serious ruminations on a Cheney presidential bid. And our not-so-serious Cheney campaign ad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You think you know real Republicans?
OLBERMANN: Well, you don't know Dick.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The ex-Miss California sues over becoming the ex-Miss California and cites as evidence of the damage to her reputation - us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL MUSTO, COLUMNIST: This is the kind of girl who sits on the TV and watches the sofa. You know, she thinks innuendo is an Italian suppository. Can I keep going?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Carrie Prejean's lawsuit references Countdown and MSNBC.
Our special legal analyst: Michael Musto.
And in "Worsts": This - a public service ad showing planes about to hit dozens of New York skyscrapers, reading, "The tsunami killed 100 times more people than 9/11. The planet is brutally powerful. Respect it. Preserve it."
Why the World Wildlife Fund is threatening legal action over this and the names of the advertising agency and the idiots who work there, who produced this.
All that and more - now on Countdown.
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York.
Ted Kennedy booed six days after his death at a town hall in Illinois
Michele Bachmann offering to slit her wrists to sign a blood covenant in which she and those sympathetic to her all man up.
And yet in our fifth story tonight: As creeping subtext of insanity and religious delirium that animates so much of the Republican Party tries to stand up and take over, an older and more powerful Republican precept defendants its turf, Senators McConnell and McCain today conducting more THINOs, T-H-I-N-O, "town halls in name only."
Supposed public forums about health care reform in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Hialeah, Florida, at which McCain and McConnell demanded the reform process start over, meetings at which only help employees and invited guests were admitted, which were, quote, "closed to the public." Here, kitty, kitty, kitty.
Senator McConnell is dragging Senator McCain into the category of "too cowardly to face actual people."
In the fight between biblical Republicans and cowardly Republicans, Senators McCain and McConnell happily leading the later, they joined Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina in Charlotte, for first of two THINOs. The forums were closed to the public just like yesterday's event in Kansas City - only hospital employees and other invited guests. And in this forum, you could hear a pin drop as the senators unloaded the new GOP message: start over on health care reform. The new theme disseminated today by the Senate Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander.
Since THINOs do not include protesters, the pushback came in absentia from Senator McCaskill of Missouri, criticizing those invitation-only forums, particularly the one in her home state.
Meantime, Michele - Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, gleefully leading the biblical wing of the Republican Party, speaking to a cheering audience at Denver's conservative Independence Institute, quoting, "This - health care reform - cannot pass. What we have to do is make it covenant, to slit our wrists, be blood brothers on this thing. This will not pass. We will do whatever it takes to make sure this doesn't pass."
And a rhetorical nod to George W. Bush, "You're either for us or against us on this issue."
Just last week it was that Bachmann told abortion opponents that the health care battle will be won on our knees in prayer and fasting.
But the truly sub-human behavior, you need only to hear the boos trying to drown out applause when Senator Kennedy's name was invoked just six days after his death by Congresswoman Janet Schakowsky after her town hall meeting in Niles, Illinois.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHAKOWSKY: You know, Ted Kennedy had said that this was the great issue of his life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: You people who booed, you are seriously F'd up.
The result of the carefully-created town hall fiasco is beginning to trickle in. A new poll finding that most Americans of both parties are confused about health care reform, 67 percent overall, 58 percent among Democrats. And also, they're feeling that President Obama has not clearly explained his plans.
Let's start first on the Republican exploitation of religion and religious fervor. We'll bring in author and activist Dan Savage.
Dan, good evening.
DAN SAVAGE, AUTHOR AND ACTIVIST: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Congresswoman Bachmann first, we might say she picked up where previous Republican zealots left off, except that some of her utterances seem exponentially more bizarre and even random. Is there some sort of machine generating these remarks or is there actually a person there?
SAVAGE: There's actually a person there and that person is a big problem for the Republican Party. And she's symbolic for an even bigger problem for the Republican Party. They began 20, 30 years ago pandering to the religious right and the religious right realized that it could just run its own candidates, elect its own people and put the nuts in charge - and that's what they've done.
Michele Bachmann is a religious extremist and a nut, and she's the kind of person who, once upon a time, the Republicans could count on her vote and her support for saner, more middle-of-the-road Republican candidates who could work with Democrats and who weren't bat crap crazy.
And now, she's the one who's in there and they're stuck with her and her extremism.
OLBERMANN: So, she - she hears voices and wrestles snakes and that sort of end of the spectrum here, you know, because even in that area, I would think.
SAVAGE: And she sees every political dispute as this battle between good and evil, as some sort of apocalypse and just ratchets up the rhetoric. We've seen her do it on - you know, during - in 2008 when she described, when she called for an investigation into the anti-American attitudes of members of Congress and all of her extreme remarks during the health care debate and the cap-and-trade debate.
The last time she was talking about letting blood into a political battle, it was the lock and load and armed and dangerous argument she was making about greenhouse gas emissions. She's nuts.
OLBERMANN: Well, yes. But you wonder how many people are going to follow her in this "let's all slit our wrists together" idea. And another thing, in a broader sense.
SAVAGE: I think if they want to show their commitment, they should start with their breasts (ph).
OLBERMANN: We'll just pass on that.
How do they twist the idea of say, just pick a figure out of the hat here, Jesus Christ and, you know, the golden rule and taking care - particularly of the sick - and turn this into opposition to health care? In a sense, if they're trying to emulate Christ, if they can't personally heal disease and passersby, should they not be willing to help doctors to do so?
SAVAGE: I'm sure they want to hear this from me, because I'm an avowed atheist. But my dad was Roman Catholic deacon and my mom was a lay minister, and I went to the seminary and I was confirmed in the Catholic Church.
I read the Bible backwards and forwards and a lot in there, a lot that Jesus had to say about taking care of the sick, housing the homeless, feeding the hungry, visiting - not executing the prisoner - and nothing about capital gains tax cuts, nothing about denying health care coverage to American families and American children, and nothing about this sort of insane opposition to a democratically-elected president.
They really have high jacked Christianity and are giving it a bad name. The reason we see spikes, I think, in more and more people who no longer associate themselves with any religious faith, I believe, is because now to say you're Christian in America means you're saying, I am in the same boat, the same "bat crap crazy" boat with Michele Bachmann - and a lot of even nominal Christians don't want to say that anymore, cultural Christians don't want to say that anymore.
OLBERMANN: Well, strip the religion out of it and stick to the ethics of religion, which is often very useful even to people who even don't believe. And we don't know of anybody who booed the late Senator Kennedy at the Schakowsky town hall belonged to the religious far right. But - I mean, I got heat for saying that Ronald Reagan is dead and he was a lousy president, and I waited four, five years until he died to say it that bluntly, just out of respect for the dead.
Are - haven't the ethics of these folks, the religious and nonreligious alike, in this opposition just been all over the map?
SAVAGE: Well, when you have a party that claims to speak for God or claims that God is on its side, the rhetoric heats up and the anger heats up. Because it's not just a battle about ideas and positions and what's good for the country and bad for the country; it's a battle about what God wants and what God doesn't want. And you're - it's easier to demagogue about your enemies and to despise them and to dehumanize them in this really personal and vicious way. And the religious right is fomenting this kind of hatred in this country - and at our peril.
I really do think that the Michele Bachmanns of the world and the Glenn Becks of the world are actively and consciously or subconsciously trying to get - I'm just going to say it - trying to get the president killed. That's why they are setting this up, as "killer be killed" argument. He's going to kill your grandpa, pull the plug on grandma, death panels that little children have to go in front of.
This kind of rhetoric - this paranoid style on the religious right from, you know, Birchers to Birthers doesn't usually end well. And we - somebody's got to put the brakes on it. Unfortunately, the Republican Party, there are no adults left in the room. There are only the Michele Bachmanns and Glenn Becks and the Rush Limbaughs running the show.
OLBERMANN: The overall picture, help me out on this overall picture, and I'm not going - I'm only going to moderate your remarks to this degree that I think some of them who oppose this are not of that thinking that you just expressed. But unfortunately, a lot of who you're talking about, you nailed them perfectly.
But this political strategy here which is - you polluted the waters here in this debate, the Republicans have, and now, OK, good, that's done. Let's have a start over, let's have a do-over on the entire debate? What is the political linear thinking in that? Where - I see a disconnect in between August and September.
SAVAGE: I think the Republicans are trying to use Obama's rope-a-dope strategy from the primaries where they are trying to lure him with his desire to be bipartisan and to seem like he's crafting a consensus solution to the health care problem, trying to lure him back into a whole fresh round of this that will not end well with him - will not end well for him and for the Democrats. The Democrats need to call their bluff and go it alone and not be suckered into another whole debate with the Republicans about what to do, because the Republicans are not debating this in good faith.
OLBERMANN: And if do-over is this new meme as we're hearing from Mr. Alexander, Senator Alexander, these phony town halls, the THINOs, this is the new form of choice, Democrats have to get astroturfed by health industry employees shipped in buses and Republicans can only handle invited guests and family? I mean, is Mitch McConnell that much of a mollycoddle and wise, John McCain participating in something that might as well be scripted?
SAVAGE: Well, that's the Republican M.O. coming out of the Bush years, that you only put your folks up in front of an invited crowd and a friendly crowd and then you put the video out and hope the video out and make it look like there's some sort of national consensus or national worship for your guy, for your candidate, for your position. And, you know, clearly, they're going to send their thugs and their screamers into Democratic events to make Democratic positions look controversial when they are not.
The majority of the country wants health insurance reform but they're sending the Birchers and Birthers into these meetings to scream and create the appearance of controversy. And the media, which is cowed by its allegiance to always describing every debate as a 50/50 either/or, they create the impression that there's a deadlock when there is not. And it's a very conscious working-the-rep strategy on the part of Republican strategists.
OLBERMANN: Where does it go from here? Because we heard the Republicans threatening to continue, Congressman Kingston of Georgia, who's another whack job, said he's going to continue the nightmare of the town halls into September. There aren't any town halls in September. Everybody has to get back to work.
And Senator Gregg has talked about holding things up with endless procedural motions in the Senate.
Do we have any idea what - how - what they're trying to do, where they're going to go next with this?
SAVAGE: Well, I don't know where the R's are going to go next. I know where the Dems need to go next.
SAVAGE: They need to man up themselves. They need to call the bluff.
We need to end the filibuster.
We have majorities in the House and Senate. We have the White House. And the American people sent Barack Obama to the White House and handed majorities in the House and Senate to the Democrats because they wanted health insurance reform, because they wanted a solution.
And the Democrats have to get up off their knees and push it through. And then they can take all of the credit or all of the blame. I think once it's passed, it's going to be very popular, just as Medicare has been and still is.
There's a reason why the - you have Michael Steele out there insisting that he's opposed to government-run health care programs, but he's going to protect Medicare, which is a government-run health care program. It's because once it's enacted and once Americans see that the government can run this and run this well and provide health care and health insurance in a way that private insurance have proved that they cannot, it's going to be popular and it's going to go down to the political benefit of the Democrats. They just have to have the courage to do it and go it alone.
OLBERMANN: And incidentally, Dan, Mr. Steele changed his mind on that subject again, which we'll get to in a moment.
The columnist and author Dan Savage - great thanks for your time tonight.
SAVAGE: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: And our apologies to Markos Moulitsas, technical problems with the wildfires in southern California prevented us from making the hookup there. We'll have Markos on the show as soon as we can arrange that.
The ultimate strategy here, of course, it's not a blessed thing to do with health care reform, it's about sinking Democrats next year and hamstringing Obama in '12. Today, that biggest goal was revealed as not a two-prong attack but a three-pronger, claims the stimulus didn't work, even as the economy rebound; bell cow the president with health care reform, whether it happens or doesn't.
And now, stick him with something new. Afghanistan is Obama's Vietnam. That hand was tipped when George Will today called for change in our policy there, a change to what Mr. Will used to call "cut and run."
And which Republican would run on that platform against Obama? How about Dick Cheney? No, I don't think I'm hallucinating.
OLBERMANN: The Republican push to make Afghanistan into Barack Obama's Vietnam after seven months - as opposed to seven years under the war under President Bush.
The trial balloon is launched and Dick Cheney is tan, ready and rested to run for president in 2012 at the age of 71, after four heart attacks and five heart surgeries.
And "Bests": The dumbest question yet in the health care debate.
And "Worsts": The most offensive idea yet in the history of public service advertisements.
All ahead here on Countdown.
OLBERMANN: The reason we went into the Breyer Patch that is Afghanistan was that Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda were there. They have - for the most part - relocated from Afghanistan, but we are still there.
And in our fourth story on the Countdown: Leading voices on both sides of the political spectrum are starting to ask why.
It should come as little no surprise that Hamid Karzai, the president
appointed by an appointed president, is now being accused of stealing his
re-election last month. What should come as gross injustice is that also,
last month, 51 Americans, more than any month in history, died in Afghanistan, defending this now wildly acknowledged as corrupt government.
U.S. General Stanley McChrystal, coalition commander in Afghanistan, submitted a plan today for the fight there - a plan which the president will read over Labor Day weekend, paving the way for seeking more troops. The White House expecting a request for 10,000 political reports, but also claiming - as the general wants to do - that he can win in Afghanistan.
Conservative George Will suddenly disagrees. His column today, a Republican declaration of defeat, surrender, appeasement, cutting and running, calling for the U.S. to leave the country, conducting military operations from only by air from outside the borders.
This influential columnist lamenting the hopelessness of nation-building in a nation where seven years of U.S. presence has yielded spotty control of maybe a third of the country that is now, in essence, built on opium. Mr. Will is now joining liberal voices like those of Senator Russ Feingold, who last week called for imposing a timetable for U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Politico is reporting that President Obama and others in the White House anticipate increased resistance from the left, if not to the war itself, then at least to continued funding of it.
Time to bring in Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell.
Great thanks to your time tonight, sir.
COL. LAWRENCE WILKERSON, FORMER COLIN POWELL CHIEF OF STAFF: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Why are we still in Afghanistan when Osama bin Laden took his ball and went to Pakistan?
WILKERSON: Well, I was listening to your introduction and let me just say that my Republican Party seems to know which side of its bread is buttered in this issue. In other words, it isn't the national security or national interest of the United States; it's the interest of the Republican Party.
George Bush and Dick Cheney spent six, seven years in Iraq; seven, eight years in Afghanistan, and never got it right in either place. Now it's Obama's war? Give me a break. It's his war by possession, of course.
OLBERMANN: And also, the time frame does seem a little - not to defend staying there - but Obama's had seven months to formulate, let alone implement some sort of strategy there. George Bush was given seven years by George Will, and now, George Will says it's impossible? This doesn't seem to be a linear connection either.
WILKERSON: As I said, Republican spokesperson George Will knows all about where his bread is buttered.
Let me do - let me also say, Keith, though, that I'm getting very concerned about Afghanistan. I spent yesterday with people from William and Mary, for example, who had monitored the elections in Kabul. And I think President Obama is going to have to look hard at bringing this to a close, perhaps as swiftly as he's trying to bring the Iraqi theater to a close. Because it just doesn't seem to be in our interest anymore to be in neither place.
OLBERMANN: We'll address this later on, but concurrent with the George Will column, there was all manner of Republican Party projection towards the 2012 presidential campaign today, and they are all predicated on Afghanistan by that point having become Obama's Vietnam. Is that - is that what we saw in this column today? Is that what we saw about the sudden Republican concern about getting out of a Middle Eastern situation where there's no hope of victory after running two of them with great personal success for seven years?
WILKERSON: I think that's precisely what you're looking at. You're looking at a political strategy where before all they had was Rush Limbaugh and a Jim DeMint and Leslie - or Lindsey Graham and maybe a few others. They're trying to find something with little teeth that they can sink their teeth in, that they can get some leverage from. And this is going to be it.
And as I said, this is not about national security. It's not about national interest. It's all about advancing the interest of the Republican Party.
OLBERMANN: And this is a party that, in power, signed away control of U.S. troops to Iraqi officials, and a party that agreed to a time line for U.S. withdrawal, and a party that let bin Laden get away. And they're now calling for us to wave the white flag in Afghanistan - to use that familiar phrase from their own terminology, to "cut and run." And yet there will be a simultaneous concurrent argument that the Democrats are soft on national security?
WILKERSON: And that's the way politics seems to work in this town now
even over such critical issues as young men and young women dying for state purposes in Iraq and Afghanistan.
OLBERMANN: Lawrence Wilkerson, the former chief of staff at the State Department - it's always an education and a pleasure. Thank you.
WILKERSON: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Ever wonder what Jerry Lee Lewis was thinking of when he sang "Goodness gracious, great balls of fire"? This is - despite what it looks like - a celebration.
And "Lonesome Roads" is back, insisting that if you do not attend his phony-baloney 9/12 rally, it will lead to slavery. He actually said that.
"Worst Persons" ahead.
OLBERMANN: "Bests" in a moment. And Michael Steele changes his mind on cutting Medicare - again.
First, on this date 70 years ago, a shell landed in the city of Gdansk in Poland, and then another and another and another. By the time the Second World War, which truly started that day, was over, a third of Poland's population, Jewish and otherwise, was dead - part of the global total approaching 75 million people.
So the next time some idiot holds up a sign comparing a politician to Hitler or some blob on the radio invokes the Nazis, remind them of what the real Nazis did, and spit something at them for diminishing the impact and the memory of what really happened by invoking it to inflamed people and their petty, trivial, political biases.
Let's play "Oddball."
We begin in Taiwan for a break where one hotel is offering guests their own piece of nirvana. It's the Dalai Lama in your latte. That looks like Dilbert. That doesn't look like a Dalai Lama.
Well, why should the Blessed Mother and her grilled cheese sandwiches have all of the fun? Now, your spiritual pick me up becomes venti size. Hotel cafe is commemorating the Dalai Lama's visit by drawing his face or Dilbert's in foam. The servers say the hardest part about putting the latte together is the speed required to draw Dilbert.
But the caffeine-adverse need not feel left out because up next, it's Mother Teresa in your beer and Pope Benedict in your Jagermeister. It's Dilbert.
To Nejapa, El Salvador, where goodness gracious great balls of fire, it's the town's annual fireball festival. No cotton candy or anything simple like this? Rules, simple - get all of the aggression out by hurling palm-sized fireballs. That's right, tell those pesky kids to get off your lawn and really mean it.
The festival has been a local tradition for the past decade, all in honor of a huge volcanic eruption that forced the entire town to evacuate in 1922. Sure, happy holidays!
Dick Cheney for president? Seriously? Not just in the comic book version of America but really?
And Carrie Prejean sues for damages to her reputation and cites us in the lawsuit.
These stories ahead.
But, first, time for Countdown's "Top Three Best Persons in the World."
Dateline: New York. Number three: Best snappy answer to a stupid question, as they use to say in "Mad" magazine. Congressman Anthony Weiner on our air this afternoon, another health care debate. We're all very sad to see who was on the side of the status quo and how unprepared she was.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ANTHONY WEINER (D), NEW YORK: Ask your parent or grandparent, ask your neighbor whether they're satisfied with Medicare. Now, there's a funding problem but the quality of care is terrific. You get complete choice and go anywhere you want. Don't look at.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How come you don't use it? You don't have it.
How come you don't have it?
WEINER: I'm not 65. I would love it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, come on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: How come you don't use it? Well, seriously, if you don't know that you have to be 65 to be eligible for Medicare, what are you doing debating health care reform on television? Geez, Louise.
Dateline: Phoenix, Arizona. Number two: Best self-outing of a psychopath. Pastor Steven L. Anderson of the Faithful Word Baptist Church, an alleged man of God and also the guy who ministers to the nut who brought the semiautomatic weapon to the Obama health care forum in that city. Previously, he said he praised nightly for the president to get brain cancer and die. He has now revealed in an interview that he also believes gays should be executed and that any gay person who denies being a child molester is lying.
You know, Pastor Anderson, if these so-called intercessory prayers really work, if enough people praying for somebody to die really gets them to die, I'd advice you to say goodbye to your friends tonight - if you have any.
And dateline Washington, best comic relief, number one, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele. When he ran for the Senate in 2006, he advocated that cuts to Medicare had to be, quote, on the table. Last week, Mr. Steele issued a Seniors' Health Care Bill of Rights, in which he said Republicans would protect Medicare and not cut it in the name of reform.
Today, talking about the financial trouble of Medicare with ABCNews.com, the interviewer said, "part of correcting Medicare is to keep the idea of cuts on the table?" Steele's reply, "oh, yes, you've got to deal with those inefficiencies, absolutely."
Gee whiz, Mike, only two total changes of policy on cutting Medicare in three years. Sunrise is still hours away. You have plenty of time to change your mind again.
OLBERMANN: The concept, crazy as it might seem as first blush, is being seriously discussed, admittedly just in the warped universe of the "Wall Street Journal" editorial board, and Republican pollsters and GOP hack strategists like Alex Castellanos: Dick Cheney for president in 2012.
Our third story tonight, I know, I know, how could he run again when he has already served two terms as president? An op-ed from a member of that "Wall Street Journal" editorial board, whose bio proudly states that he, quote, attended college, speculates that another terrorist attack would vindicate the Bush administration. "The 2012 election may end up turning on national security. Republicans would be wise to nominate someone with both toughness and experience. Under such circumstances, it's hard to think of a better candidate, assuming, of course, that he could be persuaded to run, than Richard B. Cheney."
Republican strategists like Mr. Castellanos and Craig Surely (ph) also sound the, if it's security, it's Dick drum beat. Even David Frum says it's, quote, not absurd. All three are them are counting on Afghanistan turning into Obama's Vietnam, which would be funny, if only it did not require that seven years under President Bush would be somehow numerically less than a presumed four years there under Barack Obama.
Anyway, oddly enough, there's already a rough cut of a Cheney campaign commercial.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our country is under attack. You think Democrats can save you? You think you know real Republicans?
OLBERMANN: Well, you don't know Dick! We kept America safe for seven years. And before that, for almost eight consecutive months. By my reckoning, that's eight years of keeping America safe.
No one knows more than me about fighting al Qaeda. I fought when Richard Clarke tried to get my attention on al Qaeda. I fought to get our boys away from al Qaeda when I discovered WMD in Iraq.
I fought al Qaeda for longer than it took Democrats to fight Mussolini, Tojo and Hitler combined.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dick Cheney, a family man with family values, who made new family members every time it looked like he might have to go to Vietnam. Dick Cheney, because no one can clean up his messes like he can.
OLBERMANN: I'm Dick Cheney, and I approve this message. But you'll never prove it, because the meeting was closed to the public no. No one took minutes. And Scooter Libby's willing to lie about it anyway.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: We're back now. And with us tonight is Chris Kofinis, Democratic strategist and veteran of the 2008 campaign. I bet you wish you were back in it, don't you?
CHRIS KOFINIS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: That was really good.
OLBERMANN: Thank you. Jonathan Larson wrote that. That's pretty good stuff. "Huffington Post" actually found Republican consultants applauding this idea of a Cheney candidacy. And are we both right here? They're clapping because Dick Cheney is the best candidate Republicans could hope for? And we're laughing because Dick Cheney is the best candidate Republicans can hope for?
KOFINIS: Yes, I believe the Republican party has lost - and please insert your favorite expletive here - their minds. I mean, Dick Cheney is one of the most unpopular politicians in America, if not the world. Dick Cheney single-handedly helped make America less safe, single-handedly helped make our economy worse, and has absolute disregard for the Constitution and the rule of law.
If he is the Republican party's - or one of the best for the Republican party, who's their worst? In all seriousness, if this wasn't such a joke, it would be insulting.
OLBERMANN: But the "Wall Street Journal" notion is that if al Qaeda were to strike again here, which half the people on Fox now seem to be advocating, that would somehow vindicate the administration that failed to eliminate al Qaeda, despite spending seven years and hundreds of billions of dollars, and all of our international support on it.
The one indisputable fact to explain any future al Qaeda attack, whether it's a Democratic administration in charge or Republican one, is that al Qaeda still exists, and that is due solely to the Bush/Cheney failure, isn't it?
KOFINIS: That's correct. You know what's amazing is the Republican party and Dick Cheney, in particular, has an incredible ability to rewrite history and ignore their own record.
Let's talk about their record. One, they failed to destroy al Qaeda. They started a war in Iraq, invaded a country that we didn't need to. They screwed up the war in Afghanistan. They worsened our relationships with our allies.
What did they do to make this country safe? They tend to make this argument that we kept this country safe, because there wasn't another terrorist attack. Well, you know there wasn't another disastrous hurricane after Katrina, but I am not about to credit Dick Cheney for controlling the weather. It is a laughable argument and it ignores the real record of the Cheney/Bush era, to be more accurate.
OLBERMANN: What is, then, the political calculus of floating Cheney in 2012? Is it to just try to plead with some younger Republican to perhaps consider running for president?
KOFINIS: Well, you know, I don't know. I think part of this has to do less with Dick Cheney and more about this calculus about the I told you so strategy. You mentioned it. And I think this is really starting to go out there amongst the Republican talking heads, this argument that if we get attacked again, it's, of course, going to be President Obama's fault. Ignoring the fact that this previous administration, Bush/Cheney, made this country less safe, again and again and again.
I think that's a key part of it, is trying to make this argument that, you know, if we get hit, they're going to go out there and immediately say, you see? We told you so. It is a really sinister and I think despicable argument to be making.
OLBERMANN: Let's try to end it on a brighter note. Could there be any better, for Democrats, Christmas or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or atheists day gift than this possibility of this phrase, Cheney/Palin 2012?
KOFINIS: Cheney/Palin 2012? I can only imagine their slogan, vote for us; we'll screw up America worst. Listen, the reality is - we can dream of it. It is not going to happen. He is not a viable candidate. Even the Republican party, as suicidal as it sometimes seems, is not about to go down that path. It would be a disastrous choice.
OLBERMANN: Yes, but he would be a hell of a dictator.
KOFINIS: He would be a hell of a dictator.
OLBERMANN: Chris Kofinis, Democratic strategist, who we will let off the hook now. Thank you for being here, as we approve that message.
KOFINIS: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Carrie Prejean sues over being fired as Miss California, and mentions Countdown in the lawsuit. That's kind of victory for us, isn't it?
And then there is this - who made it, who is suing over it, in worst persons?
And when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, her special guest, former Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge, whose new book is almost entirely about the atmosphere politics that surrounded and pervaded the Bush administration's approach to domestic terror warnings.
OLBERMANN: Carrie Prejean sues over her dismissal as Miss California, and cites my interview with Michael Musto about her. So tonight, I will interview Michael Musto about her. That's next, but first time for Countdown's number two story, tonight's worst persons in the world.
The bronze - in English this time - the bronze to Lonesome Roads Beck, hemorrhaging advertisers, can't spell, doesn't rehearse, losing his mind. "They have their hands around the neck of this Republican. They're about to snap it if we don't wake up. I have the answers. Get on your knees and pray. Turn the other cheek, never in anger, never in anger. Pray for more time. Stand up in your community and speak without fear. Base it all on fact. Be the media source. You may be the only thing that stands between freedom and slavery. If you can, join those who are willing to take a stand in Washington, D.C. on 9/12. They are very well organized in their communities. And I didn't realize how much socialist communities there were."
Like, Glenny won't make money if you go to Washington's for his 9/12 group. By the way, who's this socialist they group Lonesome Beck sees? Gophers, invisible gophers. They're everywhere! Everywhere!
The runner-up tonight, our old friend Kansas Congresswoman Lynn - I was against the great white hope before I was for it - Jenkins. Turns out her use of a white supremacist phrase dating back to the persecution of black heavyweight champion Jack Johnson was not her first brush with sleaze-baggery. Five weeks ago, a 27 year old uninsured waitress named Elizabeth Smith came to a town hall with her uninsured two-year-old son, asking why they shouldn't have access to a low-cost public insurance option.
Congresswoman Jenkins' response - no, we should give you money so you can buy higher-priced insurance from private insurers, and you need to grow up, miss - is the definition of the tone-deafness of Republican when's it comes to, you know, people.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. LYNN JENKINS (R), KANSAS: A government run program is going to subsidize not only yours but everybody's in this room. So I'm not sure what we're talking about.
Well, I think it comes down to the whole discussion of -
JENKINS: I believe people should be given the opportunity to take care of themselves with an advanceable tax credit to go be a grown up and go buy the insurance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: And I believe Congresswoman Jenkins needs to become an uninsured waitress, so she learns a little empathy and love thy neighbor more than they lovest thy campaign contributions from the insurance industry. Uh-oh!
But our winners, sadly, the advertising agency DDB Brazil, where they thought this was a great idea for a public service ad. It shows countless planes about to crash into every building in New York City, including the no-longer-standing World Trade Center. And the only words on the ad read, "the tsunami killed 100 times more people than 9/11. The planet is brutally powerful. Respect it. Preserve it."
As if you should be using the nightmare of 9/11 in an advertisement, as if you should be using it to make any point. What is the point, by the way? That agency, DDB Brazil, submitted that monstrosity to the Brazilian branch of the World Wildlife Federation, which rejected it. Then these geniuses also submitted it to an advertising awards competition and left the WWF Logo on it. The World Wildlife Fund did the right thing, saying this afternoon that this was, quote, "an unauthorized use of our logo, and we are aggressively pursuing action to have it removed from websites, where it is currently being featured. We strongly condemn the messages and the images portrayed in this ad. On behalf of WWF here in the U.S. and around the world, we can promise you this ad does not in any way reflect the thoughts and feelings of the people in our organization."
An advertising website lists the creative team for most major ads worldwide. Here's the list for one from DDB Brazil: executive creative directors Rodolfo Sampaio, Julio Andery, creative directors Julio Andery, Guilherme Jahara, copywriter Adriana Matos, art director Giulherme Jahara, art buyer, Carmen Castillo, Carolina Galastri. And in charge of the ad, and CEO president, creative director of the DDB Agency, Sergio Valenti. Frankly, I hope he starves on the streets. The advertising agency DDB Brazil, today's worst persons in the world.
OLBERMANN: When she told Perez Hilton she believed in opposite marriage, Carrie Prejean was praised by the right for choosing truth over the tiara. But when Miss California became opposite employed, the tiara suddenly stopped looking so bad after all. Number one story, Carrie Prejean claims religious discrimination and sues, mentioning this program and MSNBC in the lawsuit.
The man at the center of the controversy is Michael Musto. To analyze his precarious position, I will be joined in a moment by Michael Musto.
First, Carrie Prejean has filed suit against Miss California Pageant officials, citing slander, libel, public disclosure of private facts, intentional and negligent affliction of emotional stress, and religious discrimination. All of this stretching way back to Miss Prejean's original statement on gay marriage at the Miss USA Pageant in April.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARRIE PREJEAN, FMR. MISS USA: We live in a land that you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage. And you know what, in my country and in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody out there. But that's how I was raised, and that's how I think that it should be, between a man and a woman.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Following that response, Ms. Prejean was outed for using performance enhancer that the Miss California Organization had paid for. Topless photos of her surfaced as she discussed Satan and temptation with James Dobson. And less than a month after Donald Trump told her she could keep the crown, Miss Prejean was fired for contract violations.
Now comes a 23-page lawsuit. And on top of page eight, 41, on April 30, 2009, "Prejean became the victim of a vicious attack by Michael Musto and Keith Olbermann on Olbermann's MSNBC program, during which they mocked Prejean, asserting, among other vial things, that she had had a sex change operation and needed a brain transplant."
If only we had some way of repaying all those vile things that were asserted in the vicious attack.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL MUSTO, "THE VILLAGE VOICE": She's sort of like a human Klaus Barbie Tell. You tell Perez Hilton you're against gay marriage. That's like telling Simon Cowell you're against screeching a show tune. This is the kind of girl who sits on the TV and watches the sofa. She thinks innuendo is an Italian suppository.
Can I keep going? On the pageant, they really should have easier questions, like what's your middle name? Or what should was "Seinfeld" on? This girl's a ding dong. I didn't even like her earrings.
OLBERMANN: The moral in this is what, never cross a beauty pageant official who knows you had implants?
MUSTO: Yes, exactly, that's it. This has escalated to a public shaming. What Moakler has left out, Keith, is that they also paid for Carrie to cut off her penis, and sand her Adam's Apple, and get a head to toe waxing. I know for a fact that Carrie Prejean was Harry Prejean, a homophobic man, who liked marriage so much, he did it three times. Now he's a babe who needs a brain implant. Maybe they can inject some fat from her butt. Oh, they have?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: I didn't like her earrings. As E Online astutely points out, it's probably safe to say she earned MSNBC's vitriol all by herself. As for the defendants named in the lawsuit, pageant co-director Keith Lewis says any suit Miss Prejean files will be vigorously defended against, adding, "I'm a lifelong Christian. I take great offense at her martyrdom."
Joining me now, the columnist for the "Village Voice," author of "La Dolce Musto," and tonight's legal analyst, Michael Musto.
MUSTO: A lot of people would like to nail her. Not me, mind you.
OLBERMANN: How does it feel to be mentioned in a Carrie Prejean lawsuit? Is there pride mixed with a kind of apprehension, mixed with a kind of what took her so long?
MUSTO: I'm thrilled, Keith. Not since last year, when Jackie Harry covered her face when she saw me, have I gotten this kind of attention. I'm thrilled that she watches this show, not "Dora the Explorer" or "Real Housewife," or the religious channel, where a priest tries to get money while getting serviced under the table.
And I do love, Keith, that it's a discrimination suit. I mean, that's crazy. That's like Charles Manson suing for an unannounced visit.
OLBERMANN: She is - I think she gets the transcripts read to her.
I'm not sure she's watching at the moment.
MUST: They show her the pictures.
OLBERMANN: She's suing the two co-directors of the Miss California USA Organization. What did or do pageant officials have to do with us mocking her? As those astute folks at E! observed, didn't she achieve this all on our own?
MUSTO: I don't know about you, Keith, but I got a call from the pageant saying, please mock her. Carrie, we made fun of you before you were even dethroned. You did it all on your own. We don't care for your half naked moralizing, and your earring. I still don't like the earrings.
If you want to KY Productions - K-2 Productions, go ahead.
OLBERMANN: This is how well instructed we were by the pageant.
Apparently, I mispronounced for two weeks the first name of Miss Moakler.
I mispronounced it for two weeks and nobody even corrected me on this. About Miss Prejean, she's also claiming she was forbidden to attend the after party at the Miss USA Pageant, because too many people were angry with her. If you can't go to the after party, what's the point in participating? Do we have any idea what the damages are for after-party denial?
MUSTO: It's a lot, because she really has a point here, Keith. I love nothing more than an after party and a gift bag. I love fighting with people over three pigs in a blanket and a gift back with Jewel's latest poetry collection and some skin cream. Carrie, you dodged a bullet.
OLBERMANN: She has a book coming out in November. Presumably, the lawsuit keeps her in the spotlight until then. If you're in the lawsuit, will you be in the book?
MUSTO: I better be in the book. In fact, I got a sneak peek at the transcript. And she only refers to some guy who should not get married to opposite people, and also shouldn't wear polyester blend, because that's against the bible, too. I consider that a mention.
OLBERMANN: Do we think this case will reach the Supreme Court?
MUSTO: Maybe the Supreme Court with Justice Diana Ross singing Stop in the name of Breast Implants. No, Keith, Can you imagine if they tell Sonia, your first assignment is the Carrie Prejean case? She would be like, I'm out of here. This is some sauce.
OLBERMANN: You guys were right. Sarah Palin has not come to her defense this time, after having done so previously. Do you think that's a great disappointment to Miss Prejean? Is it a disappointment to you that we're not somehow against Sarah Palin in this case, too?
MUSTO: It's pretty good for Carrie, because an endorsement from Sarah Palin is like getting an endorsement from Michael Jackson's doctor of death. Sarah's too busy with own lawsuit against Letterman right now. Her whole defense is like, it was my 17-year-old who got knocked up, not my 14-year-old. Get my twisted values right.
OLBERMANN: Yes, that worked very well. Last question, Michael, any chance you're going to counter this? Are you going to file a counter-suit?
MUSTO: No, I don't believe in opposite sex suing. I will let her just sleep by herself. Pop, pop.
OLBERMANN: The one and only Michael Musto. Great thanks as always.
MUSTO: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: We'll see you in court.
That's Countdown for this the 2,315th day since the previous president declared mission accomplished in Iraq. I'm Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.
And now to discuss the Bush administration's politicization of terror threats with former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, ladies and gentlemen, here is Rachel Maddow. Good evening, Rachel.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END